Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Scotch. Bacon. And other manly things.

Erik and I had an awesome, long weekend.  One of my favorite events was a BBQ with our good friends Kiefer and Diane.  Diane and I drank cocktails, the boys had scotch and I tested a new, very easy appetizer recipe (bacon-wrapped lil' smokies, Erik's idea!).

Kiefer was a natural in front of the camera.
Quick back story.  Diane and I became friends through work.  Diane met Kiefer (one of Erik's best friends) and they immediately hit it off.  Unfortunately, Diane had plans to move to NYC shortly after they began dating.  So now they're seeing each other long distance, but it's working well.  We love hanging with them when Diane is visiting MN. Kiefer is potentially moving out to NYC so they can be together but Erik and I secretly (or not-so-secretly) hope they eventually settle in MN so we can have hundreds more BBQs like ths one.

Diane made Palomas, these were refreshing and perfect for sipping on a patio. 

Palomas

Ingredients

3 oz fresh grapefruit juice
3 oz club soda
2 oz silver tequila
Lime juice (from half a lime)
1 teaspoon agave nectar

Preparation

Mix all ingredients and pour into a glass with ice. 
Villeroy and Boch sent me these awesome scotch glasses and Erik was THRILLED.  We decided to do a "manly" post and I asked him to think of appetizer idea.  He said anything wrapped in bacon would suffice but we wanted to try something new. We've had bacon-wrapped shrimp, bacon-wrapped chesnuts, bacon-wrapped scallops, etc.  So he thought of lil' smokies.  GENIUS. 

Ok so bacon-wrapped lil' smokies don't really pair well with scotch but the scotch drinking happened before dinner.  The guys loved the glasses and the scotch. They would be a great Father's Day or birthday gift for the dudes in your life. 
Can you believe how cooperative they were with my annoying blog antics and all the picture-taking?  I suppose since they got bacon and scotch out of the deal they were fine with it.

It was Erik's idea to drizzle BBQ sauce over the smokies.  

Bacon-wrapped lil' smokies

Ingredients

1 package bacon
1 package lil' smokies
BBQ sauce
toothpicks

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Cut the bacon in half. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and coat with cooking spray.  Wrap each smokie with half a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until the bacon is cooked to your liking.  Dip in BBQ sauce.

Disclosure: the scotch glasses were given to me by Villeroy and Boch, but the opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Grilling and chilling

Yesterday evening I had dinner with good friends Kristin and Libby. We grilled portobello mushroom burgers, drank wine and sat outside on Libby's patio enjoying the warm(ish) MN weather. It was a very good night.

We ate veggies with delicious hummus from the Minneapolis Farmers Market (Deanna's hummus).



Kristin made an excellent caprese quinoa salad.

Quinoa Caprese from (adapted from Too Many Chefs, original recipe from Shape, May 2006)

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
14 oz. vegetable stock
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced
1 cup torn basil leaves
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper

Preparation

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce heat and simmer about 12-15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. The quinoa should be tender. transfer to a large bowl and toss/stir to help it cool down to room temperature.

Smash your garlic cloves, removing the papery outer peel. Heat the oil in a small skillet over low and add the garlic. Sautee over low heat, stirring occasionally for about five minutes. Strain the garlic out of the oil and let the oil cool.

Stir the cherry tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella into the quinoa.

With a whisk or fork beat the lemon juice and oil together. Pour over the quinoa and toss well. Season to taste.
We had huge portobello burgers topped with blue cheese. Yum. Just as tasty as a beef burger. Seriously.

This was a great segue into the holiday weekend. Erik and I have plans with friends up north at a cabin. There will be beer, bonfires, lawn games, burgers and hopefully no rain! We're also hanging with good friends Kiefer and Diane and I can't wait for an entire evening of quality time and good food. Monday brings another BBQ, this time with my family. I haven't seen then in over a week and am going through a bit of withdrawal after spending 24/7 with them in Florida!

What are your weekend plans? I hope they are jam packed with fun!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Real party: a baseball concession stand

After my baseball outing the other day, I thought this baseball concession stand was fitting. Stephanie and the team at Spaceships and Laser Beams always have wonderful and creative party ideas for boys and this is no exception.

As told by Stephanie:

I am always very concerned about the amount of junk food my son intakes. I thought instead of a candy bar, we'd develop a healthy(ish) concession stand that would be perfect -- and affordable -- for any boy's party. The shopping list includes multigrain crisps, popcorn, apple slices, pretzels, chocolate covered berries, grapes and chocolate covered pretzels. For beverages, we had water and juice boxes.















About Spaceships and Laser Beams:

- They only do collections for boys - or "non-frilly" girls: we're a no princess zone
- All of their illustrations are 100% original and drawn by hand, they won't be found anywhere else
- All of the collections are created by professional graphic designers
- This collection was designed by Janelle
- Items in the Classic Baseball collection can be bought individually or as part of a party value pack
- They believe that happy childhoods are about making every day feel special, 5% of all sales goes to the YMCA Strong Kids campaign -- to help young boys grow in to strong young men
- Visit them at their Etsy shop or follow on Facebook or on Twitter. They also have a blog.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Take me out to the ball game

{iPhone pics}

Erik and I went to our first Twins game of the season. We had tickets in a suite and it was awesome! I ate way too much though (yes that's my full plate in the photo). What can I say, I have such a weakness for taco dip and chips and all junk food in general. While I enjoyed the chicken fingers and ranch Erik marveled at the well-stocked fridge full of Heineken.

We had a great time and the Twins won!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dinner club with the gals

Once a month my good friends Melanie, Kristin and I have a "dinner club". This is an official way to describe a night out drinking wine, eating great food, and best of all enjoying each other's company. Each month one of us chooses a restaurant that we've never been to before.

Yesterday Kristin chose Barbary Fig in St. Paul, a Mediterranean restaurant with a sweet patio on Grand Ave. We had a fantastic meal, full of flavor and warm sun. It was a gorgeous day to be outdoors, 70 with blue skies.

We shared an appetizer of spinach and feta wrapped in pastry with tomato chutney and sauteed vegetables. It was so good I wish I had the whole thing all to myself.

Mel and I ordered vegetarian lentils with white beans and chickpeas in a mint and dill sauce. It was drizzled in tahini and yogurt and served over organic cracked wheat. This had amazing flavor with a hint of heat. I would definitely have this again.

Kristin ordered the vegetarian cous cous with five spices, raisins and almonds. She enjoyed it but thought it lacked a bit of flavor. It was a lovely dish, full of color.

I love dinner club, throw a gorgeous day and a patio in the mix and you basically have a evening filled with perfection.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Real party: a city chic sip n' see baby shower

Sip n' sees are my new favorite kind of baby shower. Guests (and the new mom!) get to enjoy cocktails while hanging out with baby Jude (often guests are seeing the baby for the first time). Shannon, Emily and I hosted the shower on Friday night, which gave the event a fun vibe and the champagne was flowing!

Jude made his cameo for a couple hours and then his daddy came to bring him home. Natasha really enjoyed a night out with the girls.

If you read my blog last Friday then you know the shower was a subtle city chic theme with black, white and lime green details.  We focused more on the food and drinks than details but even in its simplicity the party was completely fabulous.

Menu

Appetizers
Olives
Pears
A variety of meat, cheeses and crackers/baguette
Roasted cauliflower with pancetta in endive
Spinach parmesan dip
Blinis

Dessert
Champagne cupcakes
Cream cheese lemon bars

Drinks
Champagne
Wine
Vodka bar
The appetizer spread.




The blinis were a huge hit (recipe at the end of this post).  I will definitely make these again soon.
These champagne cupcakes are my favorite.  They are moist and the champagne buttercream is frosting is light and airy.
New mom Natasha and 6-week old baby Jude.  He likes attention from pretty ladies!
Lovely guests sipping and seeing.
Co-hosts Shannon and Emily.  Shannon owns the loft where the shower was held.  It is a great space for parties!
Jude enjoyed watching his mama open gifts.  Shannon has a gorgeous view of the city skyline from her condo.

Here is the blini recipe, I took a major shortcut and used a pancake mix.

Blinis

Ingredients

Whole wheat or buckwheat pancake mix
Creme fraiche (can substitute sour cream)
Caviar, chilled (I used black lumpfish)
1 teaspoon dill

Directions

Prepare pancakes according to package directions.  Add dill and stir.  Drop tablespoonfuls of pancake batter to a pan over medium-high heat, flip when they begin to bubble.  Set aside to cool. (This can be done one day ahead, store in an airtight container at room temperature.)

Arrange the pancakes on a platter.  Add a dollup of creme fraiche and a small amount of caviar.  Trust me when I say a little caviar goes a long way.

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead!  I am jam-packed with dinners with girlfriends, a Twins game with my honey and date-night on Friday.  Excited!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blinis and sip n' sees

{Photo credit: Kitchy Kitchen via TasteSpotting}

First I'd like to say TGIF.  Seriously.  I'd like to add an extra "F" in there if you know what I mean.  The week back to work after a fabulous vacation is not easy.  But I know I shouldn't complain.  The farmers market in Minneapolis was lovely yesterday and the weather has been really nice.

This evening I am co-hosting a Sip n' See baby shower for my friend, Natasha.  I'm sure you remember her blessingway and the first day we met sweet baby Jude?

The (subtle) theme for the shower is a black/white/lime green and city chic.  My friend Shannon came up with almost all of the ideas and Emily and I are bringing some food and drinks (lots of apps, champagne, wine and a vodka bar).

I am making blinis (they are traditionally Russian, Natasha is Russian plus I thought the sophistication of the appetizer fit in nicely with the city chic theme).  I also am made the champagne cupcakes I made for Natasha's blessingway, which she loved.  I spent my evening baking cupcakes and flipping mini pancakes which was fine since it was "no technology Thursday".  Erik apparently didn't get  the memo, and was glued to the TV watching basketball.

What are your weekend plans?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Black, white and yellow dessert table

Alecia of Boutique Affairs sent me this fun, black, white and yellow dessert table. Alecia was in the business of baking cupcakes for the past few years but has recently opened up a dessert table company (in Australia). It is always quite impressive when you see a well-designed dessert table that also has homemade goods on it.

Check out all these delish-looking desserts on the table:

3 tier Mississippi mud cake covered in white fondant and handcrafted sugar flowers in yellow
Gooey Caramel Macaroons
Vanilla Cupcakes with buttercream frosting
Cake Pops
Vanilla sponge with passionfruit
Licorice Logs
Coffe ganache Chocoalte cups
Personalized Chocolates
An assortment of candy to tie in with the theme










Thanks so much to Alecia for sending the lovely dessert table my way!

Vendor credits:

Photography: Her Photography
Design/Styling/Desserts: Boutique Affairs
Stationery: Her Designs

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A beautiful, ethereal dessert table

How absolutely lovely is this dessert table? I love the softness, the prettiness, the sweetness of it all. Juli of Sweet! Cupcakes and Treats submitted this table and provided all the all dessert items, vintage glass serving pieces, and bunting.  The stunning flowers, furniture and props were provided by The Bouquets of Ascha Jolie.

The table was created for a mom and her two adorable daughters to enjoy.

As told by Juli:

The dessert table was set up on a vintage chest of drawers, and featured all vintage glass serving pieces.  All the dessert items were kept as subtle as possible to enhance the neutrality of the setting.  The weather here in Melbourne was perfect - sunny and breezy (very unusual for this time of year!)... key dessert items were vanilla cupcakes with buttercream and sugarpaste ruffled flowers, lemon jammy smooch cookies, chocolate brownies, eskimo mallows and natural meringues.

A mix of pretty and romantic flowers were created by The Bouquets of Ascha Jolie, using pink David Austin roses, Snow Berries, succelents, Dahlias, daisies and Gypsophlia.  Small bunches were placed in vintage glass vessels, with a large statement arrangement of Gyp placed atop an aged urn.






The baby's breath reminds me of my sister's wedding.  Bunches of it look like soft, white clouds. 








This table can be used as inspiration for so many things; weddings, bridal/baby showers, birthday parties, and so much more.  I adore this table and the breathtaking femininity of it. 

Vendors:

Photos and desserts: Sweet! Cupcakes and Treats
Flowers/furniture/props: The Bouquets of Ascha Jolie